Neal Charnoff / VPR file

Author Chris Bohjalian has set his latest novel in Vermont.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands tells the story of Emily Shepard, a teenager whose parents may have been responsible for a nuclear meltdown in the Northeast Kingdom.

With the Kingdom now an off-limits radioactive zone, Shepard winds up orphaned and alone on the streets of Burlington.

The book delves into the world of homeless teens in the Queen City, where stealing, prostitution and drug use are the norm.

Dale Cahill

Tobacco may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Vermont, but from the late 1800s to the mid-20th century, tobacco thrived in the southern part of the state.  To combat our unpredictable weather, farmers in this region constructed unique sheds which allowed for the drying of the tobacco leaves.

Steven Senne / AP

For the last couple years, an event has been staged in Boston Common on the Fourth of July. It’s a communal reading of Frederick Douglass’s 1852 speech, “The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro.” This year, the Vermont Humanities Council has sponsored readings of the speech around Vermont, too.

Glenn Moody / Courtesy Blue Rider Press

When journalist Michael Hastings died in a car crash a year ago at age 33, he left a legacy as a tough war reporter and gifted writer. Hastings might be best remembered for an article he wrote in 2010 for Rolling Stone about General Stanley McChrystal that led to the general’s resignation.

In the early 1970s, Sam Lattimore and Elizabeth Church met in an art gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They fell for each other and married and moved into a hotel, where, less than a year into their marriage, Elizabeth was murdered by a bellman who had become obsessed with her.

KatarzynaBialasiewicz / Thinkstock

For some people, summer is full of hectic, busy days spent running from one event to the next. Others like to enjoy summer at half speed: on a picnic blanket with a glass of lemonade and a good book. If summer for you is synonymous with "summer reading," then you'll appreciate our summer book show.

We talk to Josie Leavitt, co-owner of Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, and Stan Hynds, book buyer for Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, about what makes a good summer read. And we get some of their suggestions for what books we should throw in our picnic baskets.


This week we’ve been exploring themes from the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio. The novel is this year’s pick for the Vermont Humanities Council’s state-wide reading program, Vermont Reads.

In the book, the protagonist August Pullman is facing the daunting prospect of starting fifth grade after being homeschooled. But his challenges are amplified, because he looks very different from everyone else.

Excerpt: If It's Okay For Me To Ask

Charlotte Albright / VPR

Middle school is a time when kids become teenagers, and unfortunately this doesn’t happen at the same time for everyone.

The first year of middle school is the subject of the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio, and it’s this year’s choice for the Vermont Reads community literature program. The book follows Auggie Pullman, a 10 year old born with genetic conditions that have left him looking very different from his peers.

Lamb to the slaughter

Children’s books are full of fantasy and wonder, but we don’t often think of them as being full of science. Now, two professors at Saint Michael’s college have teamed up to write a book about biology in children’s literature. Education professor Valerie Bang-Jensen and biology professor Mark Lubkowitz are co-founders of the college's Teaching Gardens program, and their new title is called Books in Bloom.  VPR's Jane Lindholm sat down with the authors recently to talk about their unique collaboration.

Wikimedia Commons

He was the last player to bat over .400, a record that’s stood since 1941. He hit 521 home runs in his career, and who knows how many more would have been added to that total if he hadn’t lost five of his prime playing years to military service in World War II and the Korean War. He homered in his final at-bat after a career that spanned more than two decades, but refused to tip his cap to the fans who were there to watch the feat.

I know it’s been said by many that printed books are heading for extinction, that digital-editions fulfill all the function that their printed cousins do, but a recent experience leads me to conclude otherwise.

My wife and I were visiting my brother and his family at their B&B in Canada, when I found myself wide awake one morning at an unusually early hour and decided to make myself a cup of tea and find something to read.

Plainfield resident and teacher Kerrin McCadden is the winner of the 2013 New Issues Poetry Prize for her book, Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes. The collection features poems that tackle the feelings of emptiness that follow divorce, the trials of parenting, and the connection to a place that can be called "home."

Broadcast on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 7:49 a.m.

Learn more about Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes.

Random House

Voting among Vermont's fourth through eighth graders for the 2013-2014 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award concluded on Friday. And the winner is...

Wonderby R.J. Palacio!

Kwasny221 / Thinkstock

Inequality in the United States is the stuff of headlines these days and has been gaining more attention in the years since the economic collapse of 2008, but the gap between rich and poor in America has been steadily increasing for decades before that crisis occurred.

The statistics are startling, including this: The one family that owns Wal-Mart has as much wealth as the bottom 40 percent of the U.S. population — some 120 million people.

In his latest book of poetry, Winter Ready, Leland Kinsey continues to explore the themes of family, time, and landscape that have occupied his previous works. They serve him well, as he examines the Northeast Kingdom he lives in and that his family has called home for generations.

Kinsey spoke with Vermont Edition about the book.

HMH Books for Young Readers

The annual cycle for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s book award begins in the spring, when the nominating committee releases the Master List of 30 titles. The books on the list are aimed at readers in grades four through eight. The committee aims to have something on the list for every reader in that age range – from novels to nonfiction picture books. To be eligible to vote for the winner, students must read at least five books on the list.

Vermont author Rebecca Rupp takes us inside a transformative summer for Danny Anderson, when he makes a set of new friends who help him overcome his grief in the novel After Eli.

AP/U.S. Forest Service/Dennis J. Souto

In the current issue of the nature writing magazine Orion, Robert Sullivan has an essay eulogizing the Eastern Hemlock.

This tree is being decimated by the hemlock wooly adelgid, a tiny but massively destructive pest. Sullivan says the hemlock has never been a particularly well-loved tree, but the experience of being in a dark, quiet, hemlock forest, where the falling pine needles create their own ambient sound would be enough to turn anyone into a fan.

Nick Adams

Addiction has the power to throw lives into chaos. Sometimes reaching across generations, it disrupts not only the addict but also the addict’s family. That’s the story told in the debut memoir by Winooski resident Jessica Hendry Nelson.

If Only You People Could Follow Directions is the story of her brother’s addiction, her father’s alcoholism, her mother’s attempt to hold the family together, and her own attempt to make a life out of chaos. She spoke with VPR's Peter Biello about her book.

Maple sugaring methods have changed greatly in Vermont. It can be traced back to the Abenaki people boiling sap in clay pots. The settlers held sugaring parties in the sugarbush. And today, we’re using vacuum tubing systems

Betty Ann Lockhart, author of Maple Sugarin’ in Vermont, and Burr Morse, owner of the Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks, discuss the incredible changes that maple sugaring has gone through over the past few centuries.